5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Engage In Gossip… John Page Burton

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The truth be known, every now and then most of us enjoy a juicy piece of gossip. These morsels of misery let us know that we are not the only one facing life’s challenges. Misery enjoys company and boy oh boy do those poor Kardashian’s have it rough! Unfortunately, some of us are addicted to gossip. For example, on cool summer evenings my wife and I like to sit outside on our porch, turn on our fire table and enjoy a glass of wine. Sadly, we have a neighbor who loves to gossip. Whenever my wife and I see her walking her dog down the street we instinctively head inside. Sometimes she is able to “sneak up on us” and our conversation with her ALWAYS goes something like this….How are you tonight Babs (fake name)? “Oh heavens I just can’t believe what’s going on with our HOA board and did you hear about so and so and rumor has it that such and such is going on down the street”! She will ramble on and on and then seem quite put out when we come up with some “lame excuse” why we must head back inside. In the three years that we have been exposed to her, she has never once asked my wife or I a single question about our lives or interests but she readily “spews” details about the majority of our neighbors. Some of it is actually quite nasty! Surely, she must have some “dirt” on us that she readily shares with others as she makes her nightly rounds. “You know those Burton’s are (fill in the blank)”. The gleam in her eyes is a dead giveaway to the personal fulfillment that being the “purveyor of secrets” seemingly affords her.

Recently, after a one sided conversation with my neighbor, I began contemplating why some people are just naturally attracted to gossip while others (like myself) are absolutely repelled by it? What motivates someone to become a “serial gossiper”? Lets take a look at some of the possible reasons.

GOSSIP…

Generational. For many, gossip is a learned behavior. Many of us heard our parents, relatives and friends gossip and so in order to fit in we may have actively joined the conversation. Anything we engage in long enough becomes a habit.

Opiate. Similar to most drugs, gossip tends to give us a false sense of contentment. The gossiper gets a “rush” from sharing “secrets” and when their audience nods their heads in approval or offers up an acknowledgement like “REALLY, I didn’t know that”, the gossiper is off and running in an unfiltered continuation of whatever half truths they are sharing.

Significance. Gossipers are fueled by an insatiable need to feel important and be viewed as people “in the know”. When they perceive to have an audience they tend to become even more audacious and their filter is turned all the way to the OFF position.

Societal. Gossip is a societal obsession. The tabloids (National Enquirer) sensationalize and outright lie about everything under the sun yet people clear the news stands with millions of sales each week. Tabloid television (Entertainment Tonight) and reality shows (Housewives of Mozambique) enjoy extremely high ratings because millions of people prefer being anywhere other than in their own reality. Sadly, millions of people rely on gossip as their sole source of information.

Ignorance. Gossip is a by product of ignorance. True intellectuals talk about ideas and solutions, small minds talk about people and problems. I have always been able to get an accurate read on someone by carefully listening to what they talk about!

Power. Gossipers derive a false sense of “power” from  “sharing details about someone else”. There is no genuine “power” in “spewing” personal information and falsity about others. The gossiper is viewed by non gossipers as vicious and untrustworthy. They carry ZERO credibility!

5 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU ENGAGE IN GOSSIP….

1. Would I still share this gossip if the person in question was standing next to me?

2. Is what I’m saying about the other person designed to build them up or discredit them?

3. What void in my life am I trying to fill by routinely gossiping about others?

4. How do I feel when I find out that someone has shared an untruth behind MY back? (Gossipers usually employ a double standard)

5. Who would I become If I made the conscious decision to let go of my need to share gossip?

Nothing positive comes from gossip. Reputations can be ruined, employment opportunities may be tarnished and personal relationships can be damaged or destroyed. Before you engage in any type of gossip I encourage you to ask yourself these 5 questions. I believe that it will help you to make a better, more empowered decision.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts.

Do You Suffer From GIGS? John Page Burton

I love getting older! I never thought I would say this, but it’s true. One of the benefits of getting older is that we tend to view everything from a more mature perspective. “We have been there and done that” which allows us to react to life events in a calmer manner. I have adopted the mantra, “this to shall pass” and I know that getting worked up will only rob me of the energy I need to ride out a storm.

The majority of my coaching clients hire me because they feel “stuck” in a specific area of their life. Over the years, I have been able to identify certain patterns of behavior that keep the majority of us from experiencing a much deeper quality of life.  Most of the time I am able to identify the cause of my clients discomfort as being what I refer to as GIGS. (Grass Is Greener Syndrome) More than likely a person will not die as a direct result of GIGS, but if left untreated it can cause a person a significant amount of anxiety and discomfort. During my initial client consultation, it is relatively easy to spot the warning signs of GIGS. I have taken the liberty to compile a list of the most common traits found in a person who suffers from GIGS. These traits have proven to be very reliable for the the early detection and subsequent treatment of GIGS. Here is the list of traits common to a person who suffers from GIGS.

*Impatience. Things are not happening fast enough for them.

*They are intolerant of others.

*They have an insatiable need for instant gratification.

*They crave constant recognition. They must be acknowledged for everything they do or they feel undervalued.

*They have extremely rigid expectations. Everything and everyone must conform to these expectations or they become very uncomfortable.

*They rely heavily on routines. Spontaneity is very challenging for them.

*They take people for granted.

*They lack a true sense of gratitude.

*They desire to fix others rather than look at themselves.

*I will just go/be somewhere else is their predominant mindset. They are willing to “bolt” if things don’t work out exactly as they envision them. This will include work, relationships, friendships, marriage and geographical locations.

Once we recognize the traits associated with GIGS, we are able to make a course correction and get “unstuck”.

Don’t let GIGS take away from the quality of your life! YOU deserve the best life has to offer. REMEMBER…The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence, it’s greener where you water it!

As always I welcome your thoughts and comments.

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5 “NEEDS” That Stifle Our Personal & Professional Growth…John Page Burton

We all have needs. We need air, water and food to survive. Most of us have a need to feel safe, secure, loved and cared for.  I believe we can all agree that these are healthy needs. Unfortunately, not all of our needs are healthy. Many are destructive and can significantly stifle our personal and professional growth? Let’s take a closer look at 5 unhealthy needs and what we can do to create a shift.

1. The Need To Be Right. This need causes people to become argumentative, confrontational, condescending and vindictive. This need is Ego driven. The need to be right can be very polarizing in our personal and professional relationships. A person needing to be right struggles to consider any point of view that differs from than their own. Growth occurs when we become open and accepting of NEW and DIFFERENT beliefs, opinions and perspectives. It’s not as important to be right as it is to be respectful in our communication with others.

2. The Need For Constant Approval. This person expects to be acknowledged for everything they do. This juvenile, insecurity driven need is emotionally draining to spouses, friends, family members and co-workers. If you don’t acknowledge and shower them with praise they often become angry and resentful. Growth occurs when we learn to be humble. Our ACTIONS will always speak much louder than our words. We must learn to accept unsolicited praise, say thank you and move on. Nobody likes being around a person who “gloats” or demands acknowledgement.

3. The Need To Be Noticed. A person driven by this need is heavily influenced by appearances and is always in search of a new audience. They tend to base their self worth on material possessions and will go to great lengths to “flaunt their stuff”.  Characteristically, they are loud, boisterous communicators. They will do anything to grab the spotlight and they love to be seen as the “star of the show”. When they feel ignored, many will throw “adult temper tantrums” in a last ditch effort to satisfy their craving for attention. Growth occurs when we realize that substance is much sexier than stuff. People who crave notoriety tend to be seen as “show offs and braggarts”. People who exhibit humility and gratitude are generally seen as intelligent, trustworthy, responsible people.

4. The Need For Control. This need is fueled by insecurity and fear. Control is an avoidance strategy. At a subconscious level, the controller is simply avoiding their own self doubt and fear by focusing their energy on “fixing” and “manipulating” the people around them. Controllers are disappointed, frustrated and angry most of the time because rarely if ever do the people around them live up to their rigid expectations. “Control freaks” have a deep seated fear of being out of control and will do everything they can to control their environment. Growth occurs when we release our death grip on control, face our fears, embrace and accept failure, learn to delegate, appreciate that most people don’t desire to be “fixed” and commence on a dedicated journey toward self acceptance.

5. The Need To Be Needed. In my book Wisdom Through Failure, I refer to this need as “Helpful Harry Syndrome”. Helpful Harry routinely prioritizes the needs of others before his own. At first glance this seems to be a noble trait but in reality it is an avoidance strategy. Eventually, Helpful Harry becomes an angry giver as he comes to realize that many of his needs are not being met. The need to be needed does not encourage self sufficiency. In other words, “Helpful Harry’s” are teaching their children, spouses and employees to rely on others first. Growth occurs when we establish the habit of meeting our own needs before we focus on meeting the needs of others. With that being said, it is important to prioritize the needs of small children, those with disabilities and of course the elderly. We must encourage our adult children, spouses and employees to become problem solvers and doers. Admittedly, many may consider this a “self centered” approach, however, in the long term it will pay big dividends.

The beauty of personal growth is that ALL of us are a work in progress. It is VERY safe to say that none of us will ever achieve total mastery. We are human! Our goal is to recognize a familiar program when it begins to run and make an immediate shift toward our truth. With each shift we lay the foundation for our NEW REALITY.  As a wise man once said…SHIFT HAPPENS!

As Always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.
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The Benefit of Checking Into REHAB…John Page Burton

If you’re the type of person who sets big goals and desires to play an above average game of life you’re more than likely aware of the benefits gained from a trip to rehab. I recommend checking in quarterly. I like to refer to rehab as my “check up from the neck up”. Similar to residential real estate, my rehab process reflects a period of restoration. I keep what is working and remove or modify what is not. My trip to rehab is designed to move me closer to my stated objectives both personally and professionally. Let’s check into rehab…

REHAB…What really happens behind closed doors?

Review. Our first step is to take an in depth look at what has and hasn’t worked during the previous quarter. Did we reach the goals we set? If not, why? In order to reach our objectives we must have a strategic plan in place along with a reliable system to measure our progress. We must be willing to make course corrections when necessary. Conducting a comprehensive review enables us to analyze our past performance and then chart a new course for the upcoming quarter, a course that is based heavily on our past success. Heed the adage…”if it ain’t broken, don’t try and fix it”.

Edit. What needs to be changed, modified or re-designed? If something isn’t working it’s often time to make a directional shift. Having edited the previous quarter we can now establish new objectives and create a detailed strategy for accomplishing our goals.

Habits. What habits are keeping us from reaching our stated objectives?. What new habits can we establish that will support our vision? For example, we may find that we have created the habit of avoidance in a specific area of our business. This habit may be what is keeping us from reaching our full potential. Armed with this awareness we can begin establishing new habits, habits that will move us closer to our stated objective and away from our avoidance strategies.

Action. What actions do we need to take in order to meet our objectives? Action leads to results. Massive action leads to massive results. I refer to this as the law of action. When we hit the proverbial wall or find ourselves experiencing doubt or fear the ONLY way we will experience a BREAKTHROUGH is by engaging in massive action. Action is the great equalizer.

Brainstorm. What new, innovative ideas will we incorporate into our next 90 day burst of focused activity? What resources (material and human) can we enroll into our action plan? Who can we add to our mastermind group that will bring additional insight to our mission? (If you don’t have a mastermind group it is a good idea to start one) Brainstorming is inspiring and can be extremely beneficial as we grow our business. Remember, the quality of our life experience is a direct reflection of the questions we ask.

I gain tremendous value from my trips to rehab and my hope is that you will find your experience fruitful as well.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

Is Your Family “Ruining Your Life?”…John Page Burton

“John, my family is ruining my life” is something a friend of mine said during a recent conversation. I encouraged him to explain what he meant (I was thinking to myself, this should be interesting). He began a “long winded rant”, highlighting the issues he had with his brother, sister, mom, deceased cousin and 93 year old grandmother. I asked him how things were going with his own wife and kids and he said, “man with all this other crap going on It doesn’t seem like I get to spend much time with them”. My friend is so heavily invested in “righting” the past that he is completely missing out on NOW. Sadly, many of us find ourselves in a similar scenario.

Family of origin, the age old dilemma…

All of us have experienced conflicts with members of our family of origin. Our goal is not to carry around so much baggage that we need to employ two bellhops! It’s draining. I work with numerous clients who are still experiencing conflicts with parents or siblings over things that took place decades ago. RELEASE IT…holding onto anger is bad for our physical and emotional health! Many of us operate under the illusion that because we are “related” we must like each other. The key word here is RELATE. In other words, if we don’t RELATE to someone (even family) it is perfectly normal to have minimal contact with them. Ask yourself this question…is the family member I have a challenge with the type of person I would desire to spend time with if we were not related? The answer is probably NO. Many of us feel “obligated” to spend time with family members who treat us poorly because “after all, they’re family”. This is a very misguided belief. I believe we should treat everyone with dignity and respect and we should expect the same in return. Relationships are a two way street. Many of us are still desperately seeking approval from our parents and siblings. We desire to prove to them once and for all that we are someone of value and importance. I routinely ask clients..”so how is that going for you?” People can change but most won’t because true change requires a significant commitment to personal growth as well as a dramatic shift in perspective.

Extended Family is a good thing…

I grew up an only child. My closest relatives lived 2500 miles away which meant I only saw them every few years. I was well aware of the “family feud” between my father and his younger brother which stemmed from what my uncle determined to be my fathers “misguided decision” to move “out west”. My mother and grandmother also routinely bickered back and forth regarding my mothers “hidden agenda” which ultimately “tore the family a part”. In reality, my parents received a great job offer in Colorado and chose to take it. Their decision obviously made my fathers family of origin very uncomfortable. The drama between my uncle and my father was never resolved and both men died without saying a proper goodbye. I am glad we moved “out west” as I fear I might have lost my mind “back east”.

Due in large part to the dysfunction within my own family of origin, my extended family has always had a profound influence in my life. Over the years I have enjoyed numerous brotherly and sisterly type relationships and I have sought advice and mentoring from a variety of older, wiser, friends. We don’t get to choose our family of origin but we do get to choose who we include in our extended family. With that being said, I always encourage my friends and clients to keep things in perspective and strive to work through and let go of past hurts or disappointments that may be keeping them from enjoying a healthier relationship with their family of origin. At the same time I encourage them to also cultivate, embrace and enjoy their extended family relationships.

Some tips for creating a healthier relationship with our family of origin…

*Focus on YOU! When we focus on becoming better, faster and stronger we leave very little time for trivial pursuits. When we find ourselves angry or upset with a member of our family of origin it is a clear sign that we need to get back to work on ourselves. When we surround ourselves with positive, uplifting people, we are able to insulate ourselves from mindless, baseless, drama. WHERE OUR FOCUS GOES, OUR ENERGY FLOWS!

*Prioritize what is important and don’t apologize for it. When a member of our family of origin DEMANDS our attention or time we can politely say NO. When any type family of origin drama begins interfering with our PRESENT responsibilities it is important to stand our ground and remain secure in our personal power. Remember, WE PROBLEM SOLVE FROM THE PAST, WE CREATE IN THE PRESENT!

*Establish healthy boundaries. We teach people how to treat us. Just because someone is “family” doesn’t mean we have to accept ill treatment or abuse. GUILT is an instrument that is often used to control people and situations. When we fail to establish boundaries we are effectively telling the other person that it is acceptable to walk all over us and THEY WILL! Boundaries establish the ground rules of how we expect to be treated NOW and in the FUTURE. We should never feel guilty about respecting ourselves enough to establish healthy boundaries.

Our family of origin can only “ruin our life” if we allow it! We get to CHOOSE how we desire to be in relationship with them or if we choose to be in relationship at all. This is a very empowering way to live our lives and yet at first it can feel uncomfortable. If you are struggling with a family of origin relationship I encourage you to begin taking the steps above as they will help you distance yourself from the drama.

As always I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

Being Male Doesn’t Make Us Men…John Page Burton

Like millions of other American’s, I recently watched the “low lights” of Miley Cyrus gyrating across the stage, her tongue wagging provocatively, grinding her backside into the front side of Robin Thick, all while belting out the lyrics to the questionable hit “Blurred Lines”. To be quite honest, I was more disturbed by Robin’s behavior than by the behavior of Miley Cyrus. I am well versed in First Amendment Law and understand that Robin has the constitutional right to produce lyrics and music which can then be legally distributed and sold to anyone willing to pay for this type of “entertainment”. I also understand that neither Robin, his manager or his record label could care less what my thoughts are. With that being said, I will exercise my own constitutional right to share my thoughts with my “dude brethren” and hope that together we can rise to the challenge of grooming the next generation of family leaders.

BEING MALE DOESN’T MAKE US MEN, TREATING PEOPLE WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT MAKES US MEN.

I believe that the vast majority of American men, myself included, must do a better job of setting a healthier example for the next generation of family leaders. When did it become acceptable for a male comedian to refer to a female political candidate by using the “C” word on national television? As stated earlier, I am grateful to live in a country in which people are allowed to expose themselves to this type of abuse in order to ensure our democratic process and MY FREEDOM. With this being said, this particular comedians behavior is not only offensive but is a very poor reflection on his character. I can’t help but believe that he is also using his celebrity status as a platform to validate his obvious belief that it is perfectly acceptable for men to treat women in such disrespectful manner. What kind of example is being set by men (or anyone else) who show up at protests to spit and hurl insults at soldiers returning home from a war? Our soldiers have the intestinal fortitude to put their lives on the line for our FREEDOM and should always be treated with the respect and gratitude they have EARNED, irregardless of how we feel politically. Our next generation of family leaders are subjected to news accounts of male politicians texting photos of their body parts to women half their age, a presidential candidate cheating on his terminally ill wife or an attorney general romping with hookers using tax payer dollars. The world wide web provides our next generation of family leaders with a 24/7 window in which they observe behavior, develop beliefs and ultimately begin incorporating these beliefs into their own lives. The only way that men can counteract these bad examples of behavior is by providing the next generation with a more acceptable model of behavior. What type of people do we desire our next generation of family leaders to be? Men, we have the opportunity to shape the beliefs of the next generation and it is NOW o’CLOCK!  Men, we need to be teaching our children the principles and values of integrity and hard work instead of supporting men who choose to spend their time camped out in a city park, leveling charges of corporate greed and hurling insults at those who choose to engage in their right to build the American dream. Men, we need to be teaching our children the principles of respect and dignity and not supporting the principles of religious intolerance, racism, bigotry or hate. The next generation of family leaders is watching our every move and we need to make sure that we are setting a good example.

Men, I challenge all of us to lead like we have never lead before. I challenge each of us to engage in an empowering dialogue with the next generation. We need to teach them that democracy includes “civil disagreement”, not hate filled or disrespectful dialogue. We must teach our children work ethics and  encourage them to use their talents to pursue the American dream rather than become dependent on the government. Finally, through our own actions we must teach our children what it means to be compassionate. Some of the “toughest dudes” I know lead their families in prayer and spiritual study on a daily basis. We live in the greatest country on earth. The world watches us for a reason. Our next generation of family leaders are entrusted with preserving the way of life that our forefathers, family members and friends fought for, I believe we owe it to them.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.